LETTER TO JOHN L, CAREY, ON THE SUBJECT OF SLAVERY. DR. R. S. STEUART BALTIMORE: PRINTED BY JOHN MURPHY, 178 Market street. 1845. LETTER. Dodon, August 30, 1845. My dear sir, — When I addressed you in March last, very far was it from my thoughts to appear before the public, even in so good a cause as the one to which my letter had re- ference ; but as you have thought proper to publish that letter as introductory to your excellent remarks on Slavery in Maryland, I feel it to be due to you to ac- knowledge my acquiescence, and also to state distinctly my readiness to share fully the responsibility of the pub- lication. In calling your attention to this matter, it was equally far from my thoughts to excite angry feelings in any portion of our slaveholders, and never could I have dreamed that a charge of political design could be imputed to either you or myself in proposing the discus- sion of this question. Indeed I can not but hope, even now, that many who have so inconsiderately taken up this impression will, on second thought, do us more jus- tice, and ultimately will come to regard this question as one not only apart from all party strife, but intimately connected with the moral, social, and political welfare of the citizens of Maryland. In your remarks you have, in my humble opinion, stated fully all the possible ad- vantages belonging to the institution of Slavery; at the same time you have pointed out with clearness and force some of the strongest objections inherently connected with it ; I am therefore greatly at a loss to understand why exception should be taken to any thing contained in your publication. Indeed I have learned, within a few days, from a friend, that my letter has in fact given more dissatisfaction than your " Remarks." It is, sir, on this account, as well as for the reasons above stated, that I feel called upon to come out frankly to say what are my views and sentiments touching this matter, trusting to the good sense and good feelings of my friends and neighbors to receive in a proper spirit that which I am sure, if rightly understood, will find a ready response in the bosom of every one. Politics I have never meddled with, though no man can feel a warmer desire to witness the prosperity of his country, and especially of our own fair portion of the union, than myself. It is in consideration of the welfare and the happiness of this our own commonwealth, that I have been induced (contrary to the habits of my life) to com- municate to you my desire to see the subject of Slavery properly discussed and duly considered by those whom it most concerns. Convinced therefore, as I am, of the correctness of my motives, and of the truth of the prin- ciples advocated, I claim from those who have objected to my letter a fair and patient hearing. Is there a man in Maryland, is there a single man con- nected with slavery who does not feel its existence to be a curse upon our beautiful land ? Is there one who has not many a time, and oft, expressed a fond hope that he might live to witness the consummation of its extinction, and the entire exodus of the negro race from among us ? If there is such a man, I have never met with him here, however current such may be in latitudes more south. Indeed it is impossible for a man of sound judgment and feelings " to look on this picture and on that,' 1 to behold the power and prosperity of Pennsylvania and Ohio, for instance, in comparison with our own state, and not feel the deepest regret for our deficiencies. In doing so, the suggestion will naturally arise in his mind that some cause, powerful and all-pervading, must exist to produce so marked a difference of condition. While these states have rapidly progressed in population and domestic im- provements, Maryland, by much the elder member of the union, possessed of the finest location and climate in the world, and of as generous and intelligent a people as any state can boast of, has remained comparatively stationary. This we have the mortifying proof of in the last census which you quote, showing we have increased but a little more than one third for fifty years ; that in nine counties the white population has decreased by twenty thousand, and that our whole number of inhabitants would have been stationary had it not been for the great increase in the city of Baltimore, and the partial increase in four or five counties. Is this or is it not in some way caused by slavery ? I call upon every one to ask himself the question. In my humble opinion it is, for it is a matter of common obser- vation that white laborers will not settle where slaves occupy the soil, however partially they may do so among free negroes. The white man shrinks from a union of la- bor with those who are regarded by their masters as an inferior race, and gradually he comes to regard labor it- self as degrading, and fit only for those whom heaven has stamped with a color darker than his own. And indeed, as you very properly remark, slave labor, protected and A, ^x^* - sustained by the capital and intelligence of the QBNML,"':is~a ^"* powerful opponent, however easily the white laborer may supplant the unsustained labor of the free negro ; hence probably the rationale of the loss of twenty thousand white inhabitants in the nine counties ; they could not or would not work with slaves, and have gone elsewhere. Every one knows that our climate and soil are congenial to the increase of blacks as well as whites, and the question is often asked, What becomes of the increase ? As regards the slaves, many have been sent to the south, and not a few have absconded. Of the free blacks, many have gone to the north, and some have gone to Africa; but as regards the whites, those who have not found homes in Baltimore, have emigrated to the far west to support themselves by honorable toil where labor is not regarded as a degradation. There is perhaps not a county in the state that has not, during the last fifty years, suffered this constant drain upon its white population, and it would not be extravagant to= presume that several hun- dred thousand inhabitants are wanting who should be now upon our soil. Let us reflect for a moment what would be the condition of our state if these her children had not become exiles from their homes. Would not our lands and water-courses have become tenanted and owned by them, and such other population as a free state draws to itself, so that, instead of the three hundred and sixteen thou- sand white inhabitants(the sole fruits of more than two cen- turies of occupancy and cultivation of our soil), we would most certainly have had at least double that number, and probably many more ? Who can contemplate such a probability and not feel the deepest regret ? Our taxes, now a burthen to the few, would be a mere circumstance to the many ; our state debt would in fact be comparative- ly nothing, and our credit would be as high as our honor deserves to have it. Land would be double its present value, and every man, from the manufacturer to the farmer, would feel his improved condition, and rejoice that all enjoyed alike. What landed man does not now feel the depressed state .j3.f_ real property ? We all see, when a farm is offererrfor sale, how long it hangs in the market even at a moderate price ; a moment's reflection will explain the reason ; it is because there are so few purchasers, so few farmers and yeomen in the country to create a competi- tion for land, and hence too the want of life and enter- prise in the large slaveholding sections of our state. It is not the want of capital ; the land is the capital ; many owners would be glad to rent their fields to industrious, intelligent tenants if they could be found, confident that a rent could be obtained at least equal to their present profits, and assuredly with far less trouble and anxiety. Who would not rejoice to see our land smiling with neat farm-houses and well cultivated fields, such as delight the eye of the traveller in almost every free state of the union? And who would not rejoice to behold public education, that blessing far beyond all mortal wealth, rising and expanding with every thing else, and shedding its influence upon all alike ? Then would we enjoy the greatest of blessings, that'tof being but one people, bound by the same ties and the same affections. But what do we behold instead of this desirable picture ? Extensive half-cultivated fields in many parts of the state, dilapi- dated negro log huts, a dirty, slovenly negro population on whom we can not bestow the blessings of education, and, in fact, whose happiness depends on their humility and their ignorance. But there is one more view of this sub- ject that we should not close our eyes upon ; it is the political effect of our paucity of numbers in regard to our national representation. Some few years since, with less population than we now possess, our number of repre- sentatives in the hall of congress was eight ; then the ratio of representation was about fifty thousand; now the ratio of representation is about seventy-two thousand, and our number of members is reduced to six. Before many years the ratio of representation will be raised to one hundred thousand, and it is much to be feared our representation will then be reduced to four, and this while the free states more especially are increasing in population so ra- pidly that, notwithstanding the augmenting ratio of re- presentation, they claim at each successive period an in- crease of representatives. Already the larger^states overshadow the smaller, and what will the consequence be when the disproportion is still greater ? Let us weigh this matter well, and let us examine and see whether we can not in our gallant little state do something to raise our white population to six or eight hundred thousand, that we may, among other advantages, at all times make a proud and a dignified presence in our national assembly. Confident am I, if my fellow-citizens will but calmly and kindly reflect upon all these things, they will see the whole question in the same light that I do, and, instead of spurning my suggestion, will generally admit that it is a consummation most devoutly to be wished for. I know the temper of my countrymen well ; they are rather hot and somewhat rash, but they are high-minded, just, and capable of the highest and noblest moral actions. It is well known there would have been but one opinion upon the subject of slaver^in Maryland, but for the in- sane interference of that paVljf that has inflicted, I may say, a longer servitude upon the negro. Until these fa- natics sprung up there was a large party openly foreman^ 8 cipation, looking forward to it with pleasure, and ready to aid in every proper way that could secure the object. But since then, for most obvious reasons, they have re- treated from their position, and now maintain the strictest neutrality. But it seems to me the time has now come for restoring things to where they were some twelve or fifteen years ago ; that is, to allow emancipation to pro- gress by the natural course of circumstances, I mean at the pleasure of the slaveholder, unrestrained by legislative enactments or by popular prejudice, excepting always that degree of restraint which police government may render necessary. At first I fear this proposition will startle some of our good citizens, and they will exclaim against it ; but I beg them to pause and consider calmly the reasons and mo- tives of this suggestion, — policy, humanity, and self-inter- est. There can be no just ground for excitement or dis- pleasure in the business. If I am right in my views and sentiments, all parties must and will, in due time, come to agregtvith me. If I am wrong (and I am entirely willing to submit to the decision of public opinion), my sugges- tion will soon fall to the ground, and there will be an end of the matter. For what have we to dread from the abolitionists ? and as to the negroes, the poor timorous wretches feel and know our power too well to think of aught else than patient, humble submission. We have our foot upon their necks, and they can never rise until we give them leave; and, so long as we are compelled to hold them in slavery, they must be held with a strong rein and by a strong hand. As a man, I can not feel indifferent to the wants and sufferings of any portion of the human race ; and for those unfortunate beings bred amidst our domestic ties and relations, in common with most slave- holders, I feel all the compassion their situation calls for; but I have no scruple in avowing that I never will hesi- tate for one moment between their fortunes and the inter- ests of our own race, of those with whom I am connected by consanguinity and nalKpal identity ; and in this, let me now remark, consists the 'difference between a Maryland emancipationist and an abolitionist. The latter, by some morbid arrangement of his tastes and faculties, prefers the welfare of the negro to that of his own fraternity. The former prefers his own brotherhood, though never disin- clined to exercise benevolence towards the negro when it can be done without danger to those who are nearer and dearer. And this, sir, brings me to that part of your re- marks where you admonish us to be mindful of our duty in protecting and preserving this large and dependent family from the consequences of a rash philanthropy. You even express the opinion that slavery is the only means of saving them from utter annihilation, and you call it in fact the bulwark of the whole colored race, standing between them and destruction. Most undoubtedly, if it is a paramount consideration to preserve and perpetuate the negro race in the State of Maryland, (which may God, in his mercy, forbid,) no device could be more cunningly framed than this institu- tion, as it now exists among us. The children are care- fully nurtured until 10 years of age ; adults are seldom over-tasked ; at 60, or there about, they are for the most part allowed to relax their toil, and generally spend the residue of a long life in quiet and ease. The female es- pecially enjoys a health and constitutional vigor that those of her sex of gentle blood may reasonably admire and envy. All are well fed, and procreation thrives ac- cordingly. The hardships and sufferings incident to In- dian life, by which the numbers of this noble race are kept in check, our slaves are totally exempt from — and it can not be doubted that our State would ere this have been overrun by them, as by a plague of locusts, had not the redundancy been absorbed, from time to time, by the great demands of the South. Now, my dear sir, I must say, with due respect for your gentleness and humanity, that this view of Slavery does not present much likeli- hood of a speedy removal of the mass from our soil ; without which it is in vain to hope for any great or dis- tinguished improvement in our State, and which if w r e seriously contemplate, we must assuredly abandon the idea of protecting the colored race by the continuance of this institution; we must, in fact, allow them gradually 10 to pass into a new form of society — into a state of exist- ence less calculated to preserve and increase their num- bers, and by which they will be brought to feel the in- fluence of the circumstances you dread so much. But I will not expatiate upon this mode of circumscribing the increase of the colored race, — the fact is universally ad- mitted, — nor will 1 attempt to moralize upon it. We must do what seems best for the occasion, and most proper for the future welfare of our commonwealth — leaving the consequences (beyond our speculation) to an all-wise and merciful Providence, on which we may fully rely to bring things to a just and happy conclusion. You foretell in strong language, but not too strong, the inevitable course of events that must befall the free negro population (if they blindly refuse to quit Maryland), when it comes fully into contact with white labor, which by an invariable law always comes to meet it, and never fails to supplant it, sooner or later. Already, as you have remarked, white labor has driven the black from many employments in New York and Philadelphia, and even on Fell's Point may be witnessed the same result, in consequence of the late rapid increase of German and Irish emigrants ; indeed we need only look at the last census to ascertain that in Baltimore the increase has been as 2 to 20 in favor of the whites. To my mind the reasons adduced by you to prove the necessity of retard- ing emancipation, are the very strongest to show the pro- priety of encouraging it, because they point out clearly that state of things in the vista which alone will compel the colored man to look to Africa, as his only hope of preservation and of happiness. To one who takes but a partial view of the relations of the two colors, and whose feelings of benevolence are bounded by personal motives and considerations, this course of action may seem too stern and uncompromising; but to one who takes a more general survey of all the premises, and truly desires the greatest amount of good to the greatest num- ber, it will I am sure appear to be the best for all the parties concerned. It can not be denied that the question is fraught with great difficulties and perplexities — but to 11 my judgment, look at it in any way we please, it will be found that this course of procedure, in connection with renewed and extended efforts at Colonization, will in all human probability, and at no very distant period, secure the removal of the great body of the African people from our State. It appears to me the President of the Mary- land Colonization Society, with his usual sagacity and decision, points 1 to this in his address, where he says " the object of Colonization is to prepare a home in Af- rica for the free colored people of the State, to which they may remove when the advantages which it offers — and above all the pressure of irresistible circumstances in this country, shall excite them to emigrate." In proposing to countenance a gradual emancipation in Maryland, I propose nothing new, but merely a return to the ancient and time honored custom of our land ; I pro- pose it not only for the ultimate good it may, and I trust will at some future day, accomplish for the negroes themselves ; but especially to promote the freedom and independence of our own color. For who does not know that the slaveholder who does his duty to himself, to the negro, and to his community, is almost as much a slave as the slave himself? He certainly has far more care and anxiety than the negro, who seldom looks forward to the morrow. Nevertheless, I would at this time ask for no more than to sanction, by more distinct authority, that which almost daily takes place, as you show by the statement made to the commissioners of the State Colonization Fund, by which it appears nearly 3000 manumissions have taken place in the last 13 years, notwithstanding all the difficulties thrown in the way by legislative en- actments. I would merely ask that each and every slaveholder be permitted to exercise his own free will and pleasure in the matter, without fear on his part, or dread on that of the manumittee, of any exercise of power to compel him to leave the State, but that it may be left to time, and natural circumstances to force this issue. No one need dread any sudden or great additions to the class of free negroes, as an immediate consequence of 12 such a course — as property Slaves have an established value, and we all know men part not with their goods and chattels, but by slow and measured steps. The law as it now stands seems to me to have an unnecessary as- pect of severity, to say the least of it. It effects but little, and evidently is not in accordance with public sen- timent ; this is proven by its frequent and open evasion, attributable no doubt to the regard which even the min- isters of the law entertain for the privileges of humanity. But on this part of the subject t desire to say as little as possible; it involves domestic rights and private feelings, and should be left to that still small voice that whispers to every man in his hours of calmness of reflection. I have thus, in as brief a space as possible, given an outline of what was upon my mind when I proposed, in my former letter to you, to consider this question in re- ference to its policy, humanity and self-interest; and, fully conscious of my inability to do it justice, my great- est regret is, that it has not been left to other and abler hands. Your opinion that it is not desirable to establish a paper for the diffusion of information on this question, has great weight with me, and I am ready to acknow- ledge the force of your reasons. We will therefore dis- miss the inquiry for the present, trusting that the little we have said may not be misunderstsod ; on the contrary that it may induce those who are intimately connected with Slavery to study the question, and to find out whe- ther any other plan, than the one suggested, can be de- vised to promote the prosperity and happiness of our native State. With sentiments of renewed respect, I remain very truly yours, R. S. Steuart. JOHN MURPHY, BOOK AND JOB PRINTER PUBLISHER, BOOKSELLER AND STATIONER, 178 Market street, Baltimore. NEW WORKS JUST PUBLISHED. BRIEFLY CONSIDERED. By JOHN L. CAREY. A neat pamphlet of 54 pages, containing much useful information to all rested in this important subject. Price only 12* cents. THE MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS OF G. W. BURNAP, Author of Lectures to Young Men, Lectures on.the sphere and duties of IVomai- 1 vol. 12mo. neatly bound in stamped cloth, gilt, $1. BRIEF EXTRACTS FROM NOTICES. ■ ; We have had ihis invaluable work upon our table for some days past, and have turnt its pages with both pleasure and profit, a rare thing to say sincerely of a new work, c this prolific age of ' literature.' The work comprises four lectures, an oration, an essa ieveral discourses on various topics, which have either engaged the public attention wit few years past, or possess intrinsic interest from other causes. Some of them we ha pleasure of hearing delivered ; others are entirely new to us, yet the former seem to rep* all the power of the latter, again to entertain and instruct. Indeed the entire work will command a standard reputation, and engage the attenUon of every reader, exceedingly chaste and classic. The theme is closely discussed, and where it has sary, the searching analysis of a powerful mind admits the reader to such a familia subject as can not fail to arrest the mind, and afford entertainment and instruct! work of a distinguished townsman, while commending it warmly to our reader- but express our great gratitude that Baltimore has made so worthy an addition to i of our country." Ball: " This worthy and accomplished author has, through a life yel short, and which destined to last for many years to come, devoted much of his time to ar< uuiry in the public mind on all useful subjects, and to the not less laudable the sphere of literary and in the community of whicl The work before us contains much sound and practical teaching, embraci wholesome,views of literature, religion and polttii It must be a great relief to newspaper critics, when a work like I head of this article, enables them to lend the benefit of their sanction wil their judgments — and to p without the fear of being c< Burnap is too well known in this community, through his publisher oils and polished writer — a deep and clear thinker — to need any pr; or to be elevated in public estimation by any expres from the perusal of his ' Miscellaneous Writings.' We are efad I to publish this collection of Addresses. In his own generally such as do not depend for their importance on lime or p] by special occasions, they apply, with nearly the same force, to all tim "Of the moral and literary character oflhe work, no one acquainted with author need to be told that it is in ofourcity. The ' Writin lostly of lectui our own city, on various occasions. Mr. Burnap has telleet Baltimore, and it is circulation of the excellent work now b larsed. The typographical which is in mi with gilt back, reflects great credit upon the publisher. " Odd Fellow's Mirror.